Eye on Extremism: September 1, 2020

The New York Times: ‘Hotel Rwanda’ Hero, Paul Rusesabagina, Is Held On Terrorism Charge

“Paul Rusesabagina, whose bravery in saving more than 1,200 fellow Rwandans from genocide inspired the film “Hotel Rwanda,” has been arrested by the authorities in Rwanda who are holding him there on charges that include terrorism, arson and murder. During the Rwandan genocide in 1994, Mr. Rusesabagina, a Hutu who was working as a manager at a hotel in the capital, Kigali, helped shelter people fleeing the violence that eventually killed as many as one million ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus. But in recent years, Mr. Rusesabagina, 66, has become an opponent of the government of Rwanda’s long-serving president, Paul Kagame, who has kept the country politically and economically stable but is accused by human rights groups of brutally silencing his critics. Mr. Kagame’s government has alleged for years that Mr. Rusesabagina is supporting Rwandan rebels attacking the country from abroad. The Rwanda Investigation Bureau said in a statement on Twitter on Monday that Mr. Rusesabagina was suspected of being “the founder, leader, sponsor and member of violent, armed, extremist terror outfits,” including the Rwanda Movement for Democratic Change and the Party for Democracy in Rwanda, both opposition parties.”

The Jerusalem Post: TikTok Announces 'Zero Tolerance' Policy On Antisemitism

“Popular video-sharing social media platform TikTok has declared a “zero tolerance” policy on accounts that have been linked to instances of antisemitism, as well as other forms of bigotry. The announcement, which came in an August 20 TikTok blog post titled “Countering Hate on TikTok,” comes as the app has faced controversy over hate speech content on the service, including the Holocaust challenge, which saw users attempt to portray themselves as Holocaust victims. However, other users are still known to make inappropriate jokes and comments of an antisemitic nature on the app, which is used by and marketed at a primarily younger audience. In one such video that surfaced on Monday, US Army Second Lt. Nathan Freihofer, who has nearly 3 million followers on the app, made a Holocaust joke, the Jewish News Syndicate reported. “What’s a Jewish person’s favorite Pokémon character?” Freihofer asked with a laugh. “Ash,” he answered, referencing the protagonist of the Pokemon anime Ash Ketchum as well as the cremation of Jews in concentration camps. He added “If you get offended, get the f**k out because it’s a joke.” Speaking to JNS, Josh Lipowsky, a senior research analyst at the Counter Extremism Project, explained that while TikTok's “comprehensive and specific hate-speech policies … are a step in the right direction for social media,” more steps to combat bigotry need to be taken.”

United States

Associated Press: US Vetoes UN Resolution Over Islamic State Fighters’ Return

“The United States vetoed a U.N. resolution Monday calling for the prosecution, rehabilitation and reintegration of all those engaged in terrorism-related activities, saying it didn’t call for the repatriation from Syria and Iraq of foreign fighters for the Islamic State extremist group and their families which is “the crucial first step.” U.S. Ambassador Kelly Craft said the resolution, “supposedly designed to reinforce international action on counter-terrorism, was worse than no resolution at all.” She dismissed it as “a cynical and willfully oblivious farce.” Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 15-member Security Council voted by email. The result was 14 countries in favor and only the U.S. opposed. It was announced by the current council president, Indonesia’s U.N. Ambassador Dian Triansyah Djani, whose country sponsored the resolution. In her statement explaining the U.S. veto, Craft pointed to her comments at a council meeting on counter-terrorism last week. She stressed then that repatriation and accountability for crimes by fighters for the Islamic State extremist group, also known as ISIS, and their family members are essential so they “do not become the nucleus of an ISIS 2.0.”


Radio Free Europe: At Least Three Pakistani Soldiers Killed In Militant Attack In Tribal Region

“Officials say militants have killed at least three Pakistani soldiers in an attack in the northwestern South Waziristan tribal district near the Afghan border. The Pakistani military said the attack took place during a search operation on August 30, adding that four others were wounded. District police officer Shaukat Ali put the death toll at four. The attack occurred in the Ladha area, he told RFE/RL. The banned Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attack and claimed that 11 soldiers died. South Waziristan, located in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, had served as a militant base until recent years. Pakistan says its operations there have cleared the area of the Taliban and other militant groups.”


Reuters: Lebanon's Berri Warns Of Return To Anarchy After Shootings

“Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, head of Lebanon’s Shi’ite Muslim Amal Movement, warned on Monday that recent deadly shootings raised the risk of the country sliding back into anarchy and sectarian strife. He was referring to clashes between Lebanese Sunni Muslims and Shi’ites last week that killed two people in the Khaldeh area south of Beirut, and an incident days earlier in the northern village of Kaftoun in which three men were shot dead. “I warn irresponsible politicians against continuing with this behavior because it creates a fertile ground for a return to anarchy and awakens the sleeping devils of terrorist cells which are waiting for the opportunity to pounce on Lebanon’s security, unity and civil peace,” Berri said in a speech. Lebanon, still scarred by its 1975-90 sectarian civil war, has been pushed to breaking point by a financial meltdown and a devastating Beirut port explosion on Aug. 4. The Khaldeh violence, in which a Sunni Arab tribe accused members of the powerful Iran-backed Shi’ite group Hezbollah of opening fire, which the movement denied, triggered a flurry of contacts among Lebanese politicians, including Berri, seeking to contain tensions.”

Agence France-Presse: Hezbollah Says Will Kill An Israeli Soldier For Each Combatant Slain

“Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah Sunday threatened to kill an Israeli soldier for every one of its fighters slain by its archfoe Israel, after a combatant was killed in Syria in July. “The Israeli needs to understand: When you kill one of our fighters, we will kill one of your soldiers,” Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah said in a televised speech.  Referring to several incidents at the border with Israel in recent weeks, he said: “All this has been taken into account and the time for settling accounts will come.” He spoke after a July 20 Israeli missile attack on Syrian government and allied positions in Syria that killed five people. Damascus regime ally Hezbollah said one of its own was among the dead. Nasrallah on Sunday said a “decisive decision” had been taken but that Hezbollah was “not in a hurry.” Israel said Wednesday it had launched air strikes against Hezbollah observation posts in Lebanon after shots were fired from across the border. The incident also comes after Hezbollah announced at the weekend it had brought down an Israeli drone flying over the border. Israel has carried out dozens of air strikes on Hezbollah targets in neighboring Syria where the group is fighting alongside the government of President Bashar al-Assad.”

Middle East

The National: UAE Makes Progress In Combating Money Laundering And Terrorism Financing, Committee Says

“The UAE has made “significant” progress with a national plan to combat money laundering and curb terrorism financing in the country, according to a statement issued by the country's central bank. The Emirates has rolled out several initiatives and is coordinating in areas such as governance and supervision with countries that share its commitment to fight financial crime, the National Committee for Combating Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism and Illegal Organisations (NAMLCFTC), said in the statement on Monday. “To create further awareness of financial crimes that threaten the security and stability of the country, NAMLCFTC recently developed a new website to assist strategic partners and stakeholders in complying with international-standard reporting measures,” the committee said after its sixth meeting of the year, which was held on Monday. The meeting overseen by committee chairman and central bank governor Abdulhamid Saeed discussed the role of technology and capacity building – both in terms of human and financial resources. A new smart platform that uses technology to detect financial crimes has been developed, while capacity building will strengthen the UAE’s ability to implement targeted financial sanctions relating to the prevention and suppression of terrorism and terrorist financing, the committee's statement said.”

Agence France-Presse: Qatar Backed ‘Terrorism And Extremism’, UAE Tells UN Court

“The United Arab Emirates accused Qatar on Monday of backing "terrorism and extremism" as the three-year-old Gulf diplomatic crisis returned to the UN's top court. Abu Dhabi urged the Hague-based International Court of Justice (ICJ) to throw out a case brought by Doha claiming measures taken against Qatar amounted to racial discrimination. Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and several other allies severed ties with Qatar in a shock move in 2017, accusing Doha of backing terrorism and siding with their regional rival Iran. They imposed an effective blockade by land, air and sea, and ordered the expulsion of Qatari nationals. Qatar dragged the UAE to the ICJ a year later seeking to get the measures lifted. The allies faced a "grave threat brought by Qatar's support for terrorism and extremism," Abdallah al-Naqbi, director of the international law department at the UAE foreign ministry, told the court via videolink. "This has nothing to do with racial discrimination." Qatar's case at the ICJ says that the UAE's actions breached the 1965 International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD).”


The Libya Observer: Libya And Nigeria Discuss Repatriation Of Progeny Of ISIS Fighters

“The Minister of Justice of the Government of National Accord (GNA) Mohamed Lamlum, held discussions with the Charge d’Affairs of the Nigerian Embassy in Libya, Abu Bakr Musa, on a number of important issues relating to the offspring of the defeated ISIS fighters, whose bodies were found in Sirte, subsequent to its liberation in the Al-Bunyan Al-Marsous Operation. Both sides discussed methods for arranging the return of the offspring to Nigeria. They also covered a number of topics of great interest to the Nigerian community in Libya, which include the conditions of Nigerian inmates in correction and rehabilitation institutions and methods of facilitating visiting rights for them.”


The Punch Nigeria: Boko Haram Killed 13 District Heads, Other Leaders – Shehu Of Borno

“The Shehu of Borno, Alhaji Garbai Elkanemi, has lamented that 13 district heads and several ward heads (Bulamas) have been killed in his emirate at the peak of the ongoing crisis by the Boko Haram terrorist group. The monarch made the disclosure in Maiduguri during a courtesy visit by a delegation of the Senate Committee on Special Duties, led by Senator Abubakar Yusuf, who were in Borno State to assess the performance of the North-East Development Commission. Elkanemi lamented that the decade-old crisis had also displaced thousands of people, who were now taking refuge in displaced persons’ camps across the state. He claimed that the crisis started in the state in July 2009 following a disagreement between the Izala and Yusufiya Islamic sects. Elkanemi lamented that the crisis later snowballed into attacks on police stations and stealing of ammunition from police formations. He said, “Gradually, they moved their operations from Maiduguri to local government headquarters and other towns within Borno. In the course of their operations, the emirate council lost about 13 district heads in addition to many ward heads, who were killed in their respective domains.”


Shabelle Media Network: Somalia: Six Militants Killed In Southern Somalia Clash

“Somali National Army (SNA) backed by Jubaland state forces on Saturday killed six al-Shabab extremists in a fierce clash in the southern region of Lower Juba, an officer confirmed. Aden Mohamed Ibrahim, commander of Jubaland forces, told journalists that members of al-Shabab militants launched an attack on a base run by the regional state's forces in Bar Sanguni neighborhood, but they were overpowered. “The forces prevented the militants' attempt to overrun the base and the militants suffered severe casualties during the confrontation between the army and the attackers,” Ibrahim said, adding that a government soldier was killed and two others injured during the gun battle. Government forces have intensified operations against al-Shabab militants in the southern and central regions in recent months, but the militants are still hiding in the rural areas of those regions, conducting ambushes and planting landmines.”

Daily Nation: Somalia: Al-Shabaab's Supreme Leader Replaced Due To Sickness, Somalia Spy Agency Says

“Somalia's spy agency says Al-Shabaab has made changes to its top leadership amid internal wrangles in the militant group with divided allegiance to global jihadist movements. The National Intelligence and Security Agency (Nisa) reported on Friday that Al-Shabaab's Emir (supreme leader) Ahmed Diriye Abu Ubaidah had been replaced due to ill health. Nisa's statement on its Twitter page said, “Because of health concerns, the power of militant group Al-Shabaab has been temporarily transferred to Abukar Adan, his deputy leader.” “There has been a bitter power struggle between a section led by Mahad Karate and supporters of Abu Ubaidah on the nomination of a new leader,” Nisa added. It did not give details of the leader's illness. A study released early in August, by Nairobi-based think-tank Africa Policy Institute, indicated the Al-Qaeda-linked jihadist group may have been overwhelmed by Covid-19. The report said the terror group's leadership and expansion plans were affected as members haggled on how to handle the pandemic. Some members reportedly pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, a terror group that arose from Iraq and Syria before spreading its evil around the world.”


Al Jazeera: What Does The Coup Mean For Mali's Spiraling Security Crisis?

“What began with reports of gunshots at an army barracks just outside Bamako in the morning of August 18 ended hours later with a group of mutinous soldiers arresting and forcing the resignation of Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, Mali's embattled president.  The coup leaders swiftly declared their intervention was meant to prevent the country from plunging into chaos, which they blamed on the government's failure to tackle a series of overlapping crises. In the weeks leading up to the coup, tens of thousands of opposition supporters had taken to the streets to protest against a disputed parliamentary election, persistent economic woes and a spiraling security crisis that erupted in 2012, when a previous coup allowed northern Tuareg separatists, allied with an al-Qaeda offshoot, to take advantage of the political instability and briefly seize large swaths of land in the north. That loss of territory precipitated the currently devolving situation, with armed groups linked to ISIL (ISIS) and al-Qaeda capitalising on intercommunal tensions as they jockey for control of Mali's semi-arid centre. But along with the hope of the social and political reforms demanded during the mass anti-Keita protests, the reality of the continuing conflicts in the country's vast north and central regions remains.”

United Kingdom

BBC News: Bristol Stabbings: Second Attack In 24 Hours

“Police are increasing patrols after a second stabbing in 24 hours in one part of Bristol. The latest attack in the early hours in Easton left a 29-year-old man in a critical condition in hospital. Another man, aged 28, was treated by paramedics at the scene, near Easton Community Centre. A 19-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder after another stabbing on Sunday on Easton Road. Avon and Somerset Police said the latest attack took place at 03:14 BST. The 29-year-old victim had emergency surgery after being driven to hospital by a member of the public. He was in a “life-threatening condition”, the force said. The second victim is also in hospital but his injuries are not as serious. Acting Det Supt James Riccio, head of the Major Crime Investigation Team, said the attacks were “deeply concerning” and police would be exploring the possibility they were linked. He said: “A cordon remains in place so we can carry out detailed inquiries at the scene and there will be an increased police presence in the area over the next few days. “While this comes just 24 hours after a previous incident in Easton in which a man was stabbed, it's too early to say whether these events are linked - but clearly this will be a line of inquiry we'll thoroughly pursue.”


France 24: Risk Of Terror Attacks In France Remains Extremely High, Says Interior Minister

“The risk of terror attacks in France remains extremely high, the interior minister said on Monday, adding that over 8,000 people were on a national warning list of Islamist radicalisation. The comments by Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin came two days before 14 people are due to go on trial over alleged involvement in attacks in January 2015 including on the Charlie Hebdo weekly that heralded a wave of militant strikes in France. The threat “remains extremely high in the country,” Darmanin said in a speech during a visit to France's internal security service the DGSI. “The risk of terror of Sunni origin is the main threat that our country is facing,” he added, promising a fight “without let-up”. He said 8,132 individuals had been registered on France's database of suspected Islamist radicals considered to be a potential security threat. Fourteen alleged accomplices in the January 7-9, 2015 jihadist attacks on the Charlie Hebdo satirical weekly, a French policewoman and a Jewish supermarket go on trial in Paris on Wednesday. All of the perpetrators were killed in the aftermath of the assaults but lawyers for the victims and prosecutors insist the trial will be a hugely important if potentially traumatic moment.”


The New York Times: Far Right Germans Try To Storm Reichstag As Virus Protests Escalate

“It was shortly after 7 p.m. when a self-described healer got on stage outside the German Parliament and urged the jeering crowd of protesters to storm the building: “There is no more police!” she shouted. “We have won!” What followed was a scene many Germans thought had been confined to their history books: Hundreds of far-right activists waving the black, white and red flag of the pre-1918 German Empire that once inspired the Nazis broke through a police barrier and tried to force their way into the building. It took only a few tense minutes before the police, though vastly outnumbered, managed to push them back. But Saturday’s events marked an alarming escalation of the protests against Germany’s response to the pandemic that have grown steadily bigger and — on the fringes at least — angrier. Strikingly, that outpouring of anger comes at a time when Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government is enjoying high levels of trust and popularity, and the great majority of Germans approve of its virus control measures. Germany has managed the pandemic well, keeping the number of deaths low, reopening schools and pumping billions of euros into welfare programs that so far have kept unemployment at bay.”

New Zealand

New Zealand Herald: Christchurch Mosque Shootings: Gunman Joins ISIS And IRA On NZ's Terrorist Entity List

“The convicted mass murderer responsible for the March 15 terror attack has become the first person in New Zealand history to be designated a "terrorist entity". This afternoon, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that Brenton Tarrant had become the 20th person to be put on this list. He joins the likes of Isis, the IRA and a number of other high-profile terrorist groups. "Designating the offender is an important demonstration of New Zealand's condemnation of terrorism and violent extremism in all forms," Ardern said. She said it was a "very significant decision in New Zealand history and law". Previously, the list was made up of only terror groups – he is the first individual to be put on the list. Being a "terrorist entity" means it is illegal for people to "participate in or support his activities". Anyone who was "financially encouraging" the terrorist would be charged, Ardern said. That means anyone who attempts to send him money will face the full force of the law.”